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The Tell-Tale Heart

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  181 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
A man’s life and his capacity for love mysteriously changes after a heart transplant in this dramatic and affecting novel—as provocative and poignant as the works of Jodi Picoult, Jojo Moyes, and Alice Sebold—from the acclaimed Orange Prize nominee and author of Lucky Bunny.

After years of excessive drink and sex, Patrick’s heart has collapsed. Only fifty, he has been given
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 10th 2015 by Harper Perennial (first published February 13th 2014)
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Rebecca Foster
(2.5) Fifty-year-old Patrick is a philandering professor with a dodgy heart. He’s saved by the death of a teenage boy in a motorbike accident in rural Cambridgeshire. By accident he learns the identity of his donor and is haunted by the thought of Drew Beamish, dead on his sixteenth birthday. He even seems to intuit things about the boy’s ancestry via dreams about hangman’s nooses and bales of hay on fire. Dawson brings in Drew and his family history through alternating sections of first-person ...more
Jan 07, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
Original review can be found at

I received an advanced readers copy from Harper Perennial via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

I have to be honest as much as I hate it. I tried, I really tried to like this book. Page after page I searched for something to hang on to. Something that would peak my interest and give me something positive to discuss. I just couldn't find it. The characters weren't likeable and the plot was dull and all ove
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, own, tlc
I found this book surprising because it went in a completely different direction than I anticipated. When I first read the premise that Patrick, the recipient of a heart transplant from 16 year old Drew, I assumed there would be some psychological aspect about Patrick adopting some of Drew’s characteristics. No so much. Formerly a womanizing college professor (and somewhat of an arse), Patrick does mellow out a bit after his operation. When he learns of Drew’s identity, he doesn’t insert himself ...more
Nov 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
I won this book from The Reading Room in exchange for an honest review.
I found "The Tell-Tale Heart" to be a nicely written story but a bit slow in the beginning then I became more interested in the story and characters as I got further along in the book. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a heartfelt and thought provoking story.
Anne Goodwin
Patrick Robson, a history professor with thirty-odd years of over-straining both his literal and metaphorical heart, wakes up in hospital following major surgery with his ex-wife at his bedside. Two hundred years apart, two teenage boys experience their sexual awakening under the wide skies of the Fenlands, and discover how the odds are stacked against those not born into wealth in cash or land. What connects the three main characters is that Drew Beamish was carrying a donor card when he was ki ...more
Maya Panika
Does the heart have a memory? Is it - as the ancients thought - the real home of the soul? There have been some strange instances of those who, after a successful heart-transplant, have noticed memories surfacing that are not theirs; of personality changes; changes in taste and preference, as if the organ's owner were trying to assert their own being alongside that of the recipient. It's a premise tailor made for a cracking good story, but sadly, for me, The Tell-Tale Heart is not it.
Jill Dawso
Feb 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
I received an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

Patrick is a 50-year-old, womanizing professor. He has been given 6 months to live, but after a 16-year-old boy dies in a motorcycle accident, he is given a heart transplant and a second chance at life. As he recovers, Patrick is no longer interested in his old life and seeks to find information about the boy whose heart he received.

The book kept trying to insinuate that Patrick's changing interests could be cause
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
I liked the main character, Patrick, immediately - well, I suppose "liked" isn't quite the right word since he's adulterous and big-headed, but his character did come to life right from the first page and I wanted to know how things would turn out for him.

Then I got to Part Two - and it really, really annoyed me! I was prepared to read chapters written from the donor's POV - but to get a whole big section of the book devoted to his several-times-great grandfather just seemed totally pointless.
Michael Davies
Mar 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone thinking this might be a gothic horror tale along the lines of the short story of the same name by Poe, will be disappointed. It's a moving enough tale of tragedy, loss and some sort of epiphany for the main character, and I enjoyed it a lot. It's true that the main character isn't easy to like-self-absorbed, immature and somewhat shallow-but it's not necessary to like him to follow him on his journey to some sort of self-awareness-in fact it helps not to! The ending is left open somewhat ...more
Feb 01, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very original way of telling a story, however it took me far too long to warm up to the characters and gain interest in the story. It certainly picked up towards thr end, but overall I can't say I was blown away.
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The writing in this book beats like the heart at the centre of its story in a strong, steady celebration of life. Set in the Fens region around Ely in England this book is also a celebration of place, of attachment to where we live and to where our ancestors lived. It is the story of a middle-aged university professor who received in a transplant the heart of a 16-year-old boy killed in a motorbike accident. With his new heart he begins to change in subtle ways and he becomes intrigued by the bo ...more
Aug 26, 2017 rated it liked it
This is the story of a heart transplant recipient and that of the heart transplant donor. While I am intrigued by the seeming evidence that the heart has memory and transplant recipients experience the memories of their donors, I didn't feel this tale gave that quite enough play. It was there but not to the extent that I would have liked. Also, this story lacks a bit of believability both with the account of the medical experience of receiving a heart transplant and with the backstory of the don ...more
Melanie Harvey
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautiful little gem of a book. Dawson is such an elegant writer taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. Ostensibly this is a straightforward tale of a man having a heart transplant but she extrapolates the themes of love and loss and manages to engender reader empathy for the redemption of a wasted life. Both sad and uplifting, Dawson treats these lives seen across several time frames with sensitivity and delicacy, presenting us with fallible and yet life enhancing humans. I would have ...more
I used to think Jill Dawson could do no wrong, but I found her more recent novels falling a little flat for me. I still like them as much as many novels I read, but they don't reach much above that level. And I don't really know why. I liked the premise – and the balance between the past and the present could have been wonderful. But it was just okay, and at times I felt like I was reading and Ian McEwan, which is no bad thing, except that I wanted to read a Jill Dawson.
Linda Amos
Patrick Robinson has received a new heart on Papworth Hospital. But what is the story of the donor? It was interesting to read some of the historical aspect of the area but I'm sorry to say that I wasn't a fan of any of the characters. Patrick is rather a selfish man and doesn't care who he hurts with his philandering.
Janice Cafarelli
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
I struggled keeping track of where I was in this book. Perhaps better placement of the different parts of the book would help. But there had to be a better way to end the book as it left me totally confused and not really having a ending to any of the 3 story parts..

Patrick receives a heart transplant of Drew Beamish a teen boy with ties to a tragic story of the 18th century Beamish family.

I won this book on Goodreads.
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
As Jill Dawson's The Tell-Tale Heart begins, we meet Patrick Robson, a professor and philanderer who has just had the good fortune to have a successful heart transplant. As he recovers, he becomes transfixed not only by his donor, Andrew Beamish's life, but with the more distant history of Drew's ancestors, farm laborers and shoemakers who were implicated in the Littleport Riots of 1816. As Patrick rediscovers the life he had been in danger of losing, the stories of Drew Beamish and Willie Beami ...more
Margaret Madden
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookbridgr
I received a copy of this title from in return for an honest review.

Patrick has had heart transplant surgery. A fifty year old disgraced Professor, divorced and insular, he wakes up after the surgery and subtle changes become slowly apparent. Obviously, the physical changes are there as the new organ tries to find it's place within its strange surroundings, but there are also more emotional changes. Memories, feelings and dreams that are unusual and surreal to Patrick.
When the tr
Annabelle Corton
Jun 13, 2016 rated it liked it

Liked it. Found it a compelling read. It passed the train test: nearly missed my stop a few times because I was so engrossed.

To clarify: I read an ARC of this. It was the edition with the brown cover and the bird on the front.
'Don't judge a book by it's cover?' Come on, we all do. My thoughts on that:
Didn't like the ARC cover, and in retrospect it didn't conjure the same vibe the story did. The cover with the motorbike, however, is perfect.

Now that we've got the packaging of the story
Feb 14, 2015 rated it liked it
I won this book in exchange for an honest review.

The premise of this novel is what appealed to me, however I don't think the author pulled it off.

The protagonist of the story is a bit of a jerk, screwing around behind his wife's back and drinking. As karma would have it, his heart is on its last leg. The story opens up with Patrick, a 50+ man, having just had a heart transplant; the heart donated from a young 16 year old boy.

My guess is that realizing his own mortality and how quickly it can b
Tia Bach
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Rating: 4.5 stars

Two souls are connected by Fate and ultimately by one beating heart. Patrick is an older man who has lived his life with little regard for the feelings of others. Drew is a young man who followed his heart, even when it led him into precarious situations. When Patrick is near death, Drew's untimely passing provides the man with another chance.

Although this story would've been compelling just from Patrick's point of view, it reaches a whole new level by including Drew's. I'm focu
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Jan 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014, fiction
In "The Tell-Tale Heart," Patrick gets a new lease on life after he has a heart transplant. Patrick is a professor who has spent his life passionately studying and perhaps neglecting his personal life. His family life isn't great and being able to essentially get another chance has really made him think about previous choices and whether or not they were the right ones. This book also explores whether or not the heart has some sort of internal memory. Not only is Patrick the focus of this story ...more
DJ Sakata
Dec 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
My Rating:


Favorite Quotes:

“There was a moment when I was cracked open on that bed, emptied. Rigged up, machines doing my living for me. Awaiting. My heart lifted out and somewhere else. I shouldn’t be alive; I must be monstrous, or magical. No human being can have their heart scooped out of their ribcage, be without it, while they await another, and live, can they? It’s inconceivable.”

“Where do Feelings live? Inside us surely, in our hearts. Where do they end, where do they stop? Pa’s feeling
Jacqueline (Fall In Love With The Sound of Words)
The Tell-Tale Heart by Jill Dawson was a strange book for me. Never in my life has a book neither been good or bad, and not mediocre. I know that doesn't make sense, but I have a feeling that this review is not going to make sense; much like my feelings for this book. I felt so contradicting throughout the whole book.

The main character, Patrick, is a fifty year old man who had sudden heart disease and was given 6 months to live. An unfortunate motorcycle accident involving a 16 year old boy, An
Feb 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Tell-Tale Heart is probably one of those most interesting books that I’ve read lately. The author’s technique of filling in the past along with the present is very well done.

The book opens with Patrick recuperating from a heart transplant. His ex-wife is visiting him, and he is amazed that she still cares for him. Patrick had lived his life to the fullest - or at least the fullest of vices - drinking and sex. He was not much on family life. But now with a new heart, he is given another chan
Morninglight Mama
Jan 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
At only 50, Patrick is saved by a heart transplant at what could be seen as a perfect time for a new start. In the face of troubles at work, and a personal life that consists of unfinished and unsettled relationships, he could be at the figurative crossroads upon which many thoughtful novels are constructed. In two other story lines, readers learn of the lives of both the teenage boy whose death provided the heart for Patrick, and his ancestor whose involvement in 18th century labor riots change ...more
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Taking place in Britain, the novel opens when a 50 year-old college professor receives a heart-transplant. His donor is a teenaged boy involved in a motorcycle accident. Author Jill Dawson sets the stage for a beautiful telling of the lives involved, which due to the transplant, are forever connected.

I so enjoyed this novel! I was pleasantly surprised when author Dawson incorporated some amazing true history of Willie Beamish, and connected this family history to Drew Beamish, the donor, and the
Sep 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jill Dawson is another one of those rather understated lyrical woman authors whose work I really appreciate. The author of "The Great Lover" this time has written a sparse little tale of a middle aged non politically correct lecturer in American literature who is the recipient of the heart of a young heartbroken boy who is killed in a motorbike accident. Neither of these characters, the donor or the recipient are particularly worthy of greatness beyond that of giving and receiving and both their ...more
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is such a good read, considering it is basically the rambling of day-to-day living of three people. It starts off when (one of the) main characters is recovering from a heart transplant and follows his thoughts as he recovers and adjust to the idea of having someone else's heart in him. It also has another character's musings on events in his life that don't really make sense until the end of the book when everything comes together. The third person's thoughts/reflections readers get a ...more
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
This novel was bittersweet, I enjoyed it but it took me awhile to get into it. When I did I really enjoyed the story. It's about a 50 yr old man who has lived a academia life and he is a bit of a skeptic. He is dying and in dire need of a heart transplant. A young boy dies in a motorcycle accident and he immediately receives his heart.

There is a bit of historical fiction in it that I enjoyed regarding the fens. I also enjoyed watching Patrick, who has been living a boring life before he receive
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Jill Dawson was born in Durham and grew up in Staffordshire, Essex and Yorkshire. She read American Studies at the University of Nottingham, then took a series of short-term jobs in London before studying for an MA in Writing at Sheffield Hallam University. In 1997 she was the British Council Writing Fellow at Amherst College, Massachussets.

Her writing life began as a poet, her poems being publish

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“(I never crush a relationship dead, I once boasted. Meaning: I always leave something in case I want to pick it up later.)” 0 likes
“You know how I used to joke that your mother had three thousand six hundred and twenty-two feelings and I had the requisite five basic ones which have an evolutionary purpose? Because, quite frankly, most of the time I didn’t know what the bloody hell she was on about? Well, since coming round from surgery I’m finding myself having others, another . . . perhaps the sixth emotion.” 0 likes
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